For the second straight season, the University of Kentucky football team has a representative on the Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team, as senior offensive guard Luke Fortner has received the honor for the 2020 season. Announced this morning, Fortner is one of only 22 players named to the prestigious team made up of college football players who step up to help those in need. Last year, fellow “Big Blue Wall” member Landon Young was named to the team and was voted team captain in a fan vote.
The final roster was chosen from 149 nominees. Eleven of the 22 players are from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision; 11 are from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Divisions II, III and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics; and one honorary head coach.
The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team was selected by a voting panel that includes Tim Tebow and an Allstate representative, along with: Matt Stinchcomb (Georgia, 1997, 1998 teams); Brian Brenberg (St. Thomas, 2001 team); Mike Proman (Amherst, 2002 team); Wes Counts (Middle Tennessee State, 1999 team); media members Blair Kerkhoff (Kansas City Star) and Paul Myerberg (USA Today); Gary Patterson (2020 AFCA president and Texas Christian University head coach); and Joe Taylor (2001 AFCA president and athletic director at Virginia Union University).
Fortner, of Sylvania, Ohio, graduated in December of 2019 with a degree in mechanical engineering and is currently working on a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Fortner put his degree to good use last fall when he, along with other UK engineering students, played a significant role in helping a team of Toyota Manufacturing engineers design, test and manufacture a specially-built push cart vehicle through a project called “Lift Them Up.” The push cart vehicle provides a Kentucky Children’s Hospital patient the chance to both accompany the Wildcats on the Cat Walk and attend a game at Kroger Field.
Because of his experience with project “Lift Them Up,” Fortner was compelled to continue making an impact at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. He began visiting the kids in September of 2019 as part of the “Tuesdays with the Wildcats” program, created by former Wildcat C.J. Conrad in 2018.
When COVID19 hit, Fortner didn’t want to stop interaction with the kids so, along with teammate Max Duffy, they asked what they could do. With the help of the Child Life team at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, they set up a program called “In the Huddle with KCH.” For eight weeks, Fortner and Duffy taped a video of themselves answering questions from kids who submitted through the Kentucky Children’s Hospital Facebook Page. The video was then posted back to the KCH Facebook page every Tuesday morning to replace what would have been their in-person visit.
- This opportunity was open to all Wildcat fans, not just KCH patients. During a difficult time for our nation, Fortner and Duffy provided a fun time for young fans to forget about the virus for even a short time to share a smile.
- Questions ranged from why they got into football, why they chose UK and what their favorite football memory is to performing their favorite dance and naming their favorite Disney princess.
- Questions were submitted from all around the state as well as submissions from Wildcat fans in Las Vegas and Columbus, Ohio.
In addition to “In the Huddle with KCH,” Fortner and his teammates got creative in how they could continue their weekly visits with KCH patients. Each week, Fortner spends 1-1.5 hours on Zoom calls with patients who are currently “in-patient” at KCH. They discuss football, favorite hobbies, favorite color, etc. Patients are able to ask the players questions about anything and everything. Fortner and his teammates always offer up words of encouragement. Zoom calls are intimate because it’s just one patient with Fortner and his teammates for about 7-10 minutes each so the focus is all on one patient at a time.
More of Fortner’s community service projects:
- Volunteered with other engineering students at UK’s 2020 “Engineers Day” to celebrate engineering and showcase the “Lift Them Up” cart
- Volunteer at Urban Impact at the Woodhill Community Center, an organization that strives to enable youth to grow, succeed and lead
- Volunteer reader at Athens-Chilesburg Elementary
- Volunteer for Read Across America at Fayette County public schools
- Volunteered with Habitat for Humanity
Vote Fortner for the Captain
At ESPN.com/Allstate, fans can vote for the 2020 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team captain once a day now through Nov. 22.
“This year has brought new meaning and purpose to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, and this group of 22 players has risen to these challenges to give back to their communities in tremendous ways,” AFCA Executive Director Todd Berry said. “I am very proud of everything this honor represents for student-athletes and coaches and look forward to showcasing their incredible stories throughout the season.”
Throughout the season, fans can join the conversation using #GoodWorksTeam on their social media channels to learn more about these players and their stories.
About the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team
The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team was established in 1992 by the College Football Association to recognize extra efforts by players and student support staff off the field. AFCA became the governing body of the award in 1997 and continues to honor players who go the extra mile for those in need. Allstate became the presenting sponsor starting with the 2008 season.
Since the recognition program began, the SEC leads all conferences with 76 athletes, followed by the Atlantic Coast Conference with 46, and the Big 12 Conference with 38. Georgia is in first place with 20 honorees, followed by Kentucky with 16. Super Bowl XLII, XLVI and XLI champion quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning were members of the 2002 and 1997 Allstate AFCA Good Works Teams, respectively.